The California League is a 'Class A Advanced' minor league baseball league which operates throughout the Pacific Ocean coast state of California. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High-A" league, indicating its status as a 'Class A' league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth step between 'Rookie ball' and the 'Major Leagues'. Although Minor League Baseball, the umbrella organization for those Minor Leagues that are affiliated with the Major League Baseball system, has eliminated the distinction between 'High-A' and other full-season 'A' leagues, most Major League teams still use such leagues as a standard promotion step. A few draftees, generally early-round draftees from colleges with college experience, will be assigned to a 'High-A' team upon signing a professional contract, but generally players will not arrive at this level until their third or fourth year of professional play.
There were various attempts in the late 1800s and early 1900s to form a "California League" on the West Coast, considering the distance of the two current major leagues which generally had teams only in the Northeast and were restricted at first until World War I by long distance train travel. The first organized "California League" lasted from 1887-1889, then another followed in 1891, and 1893, and finally in 1899-1902. After the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, an organization of minor leagues was formed in 1902, (following the "truce" and agreements between the older National League of 1876 and the newly "upstart" American League of 1901), the California League operated outside the NAPBL system as an independent league in 1902 and again from 1907-1909. Unfortunately this led to huge differences in the quality of teams competing with each other. In 1907, the San Francisco team was 3-34, while later in 1908 San Francisco was 9-67 and Oakland was 4-71. Oakland and San Francisco competed in every year of these various state leagues, with San Francisco having two teams during 1887-88.
All of the current teams are playing in stadiums that have been built or extensively renovated since 1990. League attendance continues to increase each season, with over one million fans attending games per year, part of a general nationwide growth and expansion to smaller towns, cities and regions below those in the National League or American League with minor league baseball at various levels of play in growing popularity in the last few decades. The League is divided into a "Northern Division" and a "Southern Division".
Modesto Nuts (1946-present, as Modesto Reds in 1946-61; as Modesto Yankees 1962-69, Modesto Cardinals 1970-74 and Modesto A's 1975-2004)
Oakland Oaks (1941, moved to Visalia as a result of World War II 1942-45); Oakland became a Pacific Coast League city, while Visalia Oaks folded by 1944.
Palm Springs Angels (1985-93) before relocation to Lake Elsinore in 1994. Palm Springs was the former spring training camp for the then-California Angels from 1961 to 1993. Palm Springs held other minor league and collegiate teams in the 1990s and 2000s.
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (1966-present, as Lodi Crushers under affiliation with the San Francisco Giants in 1966-69; as Lodi Padres in 1970-71; as Lodi Orioles in 1972; as Lodi Lions in 1973; as Lodi Orions 1974-75 all under affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles; as Lodi Dodgers in 1976-83; as Lodi Crushers under affiliation with the Seattle Mariners in 1984; as Ventura County Gulls in 1986; as San Bernardino Spirit in 1987-92) but another team with the name appeared.
The Los Angeles area, Riverside, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, Yuma (AZ) and Las Vegas (NV) were also major league spring training site cities, as well possessed California League teams on different occasions.
Cities that have had California League Teams (current in bold)